Beijing Bound!

Hello all!

I just came back last week from Fobisia, a sports competition among other British international schools in SE Asia. I participated in athletics (track and field). On the first day, I watched the girls soccer tournament. We didn’t do as well as we had hoped. The weather and pollution was less than ideal, so last minute the games had to switched to an indoor pitch.  This pitch was also a basketball court so the ball bounced quite high and it was difficult to control. During this game, I ran outside. It was freezing cold! I had long pants, a long shirt, a jacket, a hat, and gloves yet I was still cold.We got 5th place (out of 6 schools). The boys basketball was on the same day. They did really well, 3rd place overall! The next day was athletics and swimming. Girls swimming and boys athletics were first, then girls athletics and boys swimming. I did the 1500, 800, and 400. Here’s the catch: from the start of the 1500 to the end of the 800 was 15 minutes apart. I was exhausted by the end of my races. I got 1st in the 1500, last in the 400, and 3rd in the 800. I was so proud of myself! The races got changed last minute to be running around the basketball court. It turns out the air in the arena we were originally going to run in hadn’t been filtered. The next day was girls basketball and boys soccer. The girls got 4th in basketball. They played so well! They got the same amount of points as the 3rd place team but since the 3rd place team beat BIS, we got 4th instead.

That afternoon, we had the gala dinner.  We dressed up nice and ate dinner. Afterwards, we received participation medals and everyone danced. It was REALLY loud in there so we left after about an hour and went up to hang out in my friends room.

 

Overall, Fobisia was an incredible experience. I made new friends and I can’t wait to see them again next year!

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Holidays & Beach Time

Hi Friends,

We’re now into our 2nd week of school, although we’ve not had a full week yet. Starting on a Wednesday is  a nice way to start the school year and then there was a Vietnamese holiday smack dab in the middle of the second week.

September 2nd marks National Day in Vietnam. It celebrates the day that Vietnam gained it’s independence from France in 1945. Yes, I had to look it up. I didn’t really know what the holiday was celebrating & thought it might be nice to maybe learn just a little bit about our host country.

We knew that downtown would be crazy & we weren’t up for braving it to go see the fireworks. At the last second, I booked a dinner boat cruise that included taking in the fireworks from the Saigon River. Bonus was that it started just a couple of miles from the house. Sounds like a win-win to me.

The boat that pulled up was a small open air boat with quite the BBQ spread prepared. Seriously, there was only about 12 of us but they had enough food to keep 30 people happy.

Happy National Day Vietnam!

Happy National Day Vietnam!

It was a fun way to see the city from a different perspective.

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After cruising around seeing the sights for a while, we pulled up near the Bitexco building to watch the fireworks. We could here the people cheering downtown and we had a front row seat for the show & it didn’t disappoint.

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In an attempt to keep the holiday vibe going as long as possible, we loaded up the car on Saturday and headed about two hours away to the beach in Vung Tau. Having the beach only two hours away reminded us of being back in Portland and heading to Cannon Beach for the day. The main difference? You can actually get in the water here!

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We let Bailey bring a couple of school friends to spend the day with us. Let’s just say that they attracted a bit of attention on the beach.

Swans

Yes, they insisted on buying swan floaties and traipsed around the beach with them. Since they each made a squeaking sound when you pushed their beaks, Tony & I weren’t 100% sorry that Cedric, Sally & Cecilia (the girls named them) died an early death.  Although I was looking forward to seeing Mr. Khoung’s face as we tried to stuff them in the car.

We decided to leave the beach just before sunburns started and as compensation for leaving, treated the girls to pizza and dessert at our favorite pizza shop. As Georgia informed us that “pizza is my life”, we could only hope that it lived up to her expectations. Seeing all plates empty assured us it did.

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I’m sure they’re Instagraming or SnapChatting their day!

We’re hoping those of you in the States have a Happy Labor Day weekend. Wish us luck as we now have to go to school & work for 5 whole days in a row!

XOXO,  April

What a Summer!

Hi Friends,

We had such a great summer seeing so many of our friends and family. Even though we were there for 5 weeks, there were people and places we didn’t get a chance to visit and for that, we’re sorry. There’s always next summer, right?

Even though we were running around town many days, we didn’t mind. There’s a simple thrill in being able to drive yourself to Target whenever you want. Oh, Target, how I’ll miss you. While we enjoyed staying downtown, I think next year, we’ll do it different and that will cut down on some of the driving.

Bailey was quite happy to see all of her friends and couldn’t contain her excitement at running outside anytime she wanted. She warned me before summer that we may not see her all that much. Well, she wasn’t kidding. I mostly saw her while schlepping her back and forth between dates with her friends.

Once we returned to Saigon, we really needed a vacation from our vacation. So, 4 days later, we headed out again for the beaches of Vietnam. Our hotel had these lovely beach umbrellas & loungers where we just parked ourselves for the day. The water was clear and warm & the umbrellas provided a nice break from the sun.

So now we’re back trying to find our groove again. Tomorrow’s the last day of summer & we’re back to the normal school routine. Bailey’s excited about going back and meeting some new people. Since she knows what to expect from the school, she’s ready to rock the 8th grade!

I know that school has started for many of you & I hope you’re all settling in after your summer.

XO, April

To travel or not to travel

Hey all!

Remember how I was talking about my public speaking competition in school? We had our finals! Sadly, I didn’t make the finals but I did get 3rd place in the in class competition. I’m still really proud. Here’s the speech I wrote and preformed in case you want to read it.

An adventure, a learning experience, an opportunity to explore the world. What better way of embracing the beauty of new, getting outside of your comfort zone, and seeing things you’ve never seen before, than travel.

But the real question is: “How does travel speak to you?” Maybe you had a stunning vacation that left you hungry for more. Or maybe a lousy one that left you with a bad impression. But regardless, travel is a story that you can tell to your children some day. It’s an adventure that makes you feel the pounding of your heart or the rush of adrenaline. It’s an eye-opener that changes the way you see the world, forever

Picture a little two year old girl, eating curry in England, having bratwurst in Germany, and nothing but paella for a week in Spain. That little girl was me. I was blessed with the chance to live abroad at such a young age that it changed how I saw the world. Living in Germany for five years really helped me to be an adventurous eater and began my journey as an avid traveler.

Although some benefits of travel include, being able to explore, enjoying local food, and sightseeing. The best part of travelling for me, is meeting new people along the way. Whether it be locals or tourists, it’s always fascinating to hear other people’s stories.

It’s not just the locals that really make your trip enjoyable. It’s also the tourists. They’re in the same situation as you; sightseeing, learning, exploring. Maybe they’ve been there before and they give you some ideas of things to do. Maybe they’ve travelled to places you’ve never been and inspire new travels. Maybe you’ve been somewhere that they haven’t. Either way, you can swap stories of your adventures and receive some back. Who knows, you may have even made a lifelong friend.

The locals are often eager to share their culture with you and excited to learn yours as well.

Like in France for example, the head chef took an infant Bailey away from her parents insisting they should enjoy their meal. Although I don’t remember it, this is a really special memory out of all the time we spent in Europe. This shows how the chef truly wanted us to embrace our travels, carefree and without worries.

Now, imagine you’re the same restaurant two years later. You look at the wall and see a picture of a small baby who looks vaguely familiar. At a closer glance, you realize it’s you! You’re a bit surprised, but also touched. This goes to show how locals really enjoy sharing their culture with you and are excited to meet people from around the world.

In total, I’ve lived in three different countries and have visited more than I can count on my fingers. Lucky? Yes. But more willing to travel than anything. I believe that every place you visit holds a special place in your heart. So if you get the opportunity to travel, take it! Because in the words of a seasoned traveler: “In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.”

Thank you.

One Year Later

Wow, what a difference a year makes. It’s impossible to believe that we’ve been here a year already. To celebrate our anniversary, I bought myself some flowers. You know, I’m thoughtful like that. 😉

When I think back to getting on that plane a year ago, it was impossible to imagine what our lives would look like. It’s taken a while, but I think we’ve gotten into the groove of things.

Tony’s settled into his role & is enjoying the challenge (but wishing there was more a/c). Bailey’s finishing up her first year at BIS. She’s just received her final year end report and we couldn’t be happier for her marks. She’s scored above the national average in many of her subjects. Considering that we’ve uprooted her and thrown her into a much more difficult school, we couldn’t have hoped for anything better. She’s had some memorable moments this year & is finishing strongly

As for me, I’m still clicking along trying to figure things out and still grocery shopping every day.

Now, we’re two weeks away from coming back to Portland for a visit. We’re looking forward to seeing friends, eating at lots of our favorite restaurants and enjoying some cooler weather.

Hope to see you in Portland. Remember, our doors always open & we’ve got lots of space!

XOXO, April

Stress of exams

Hi everyone,

I have just finished up my end of year exams. I did exceedingly well on most of them actually. My math result turned out to be the best in my class! I thought it would be a lot less stressful now that exams are done and out of the way but NO. More stress. I have several group projects that I have recently been assigned. Assignment 1: Make an a cappella version of a complete song. So far so good. My group is about half way through the song and should be finished soon. We are doing the song Pompeii by Bastille. Assignment 2: Geography poster. We are actually doing well on this. We have to make a poster and present it to the class. Assignment 3: Drama final. We have to make up a drama piece given certain criteria and perfect it by next week. Assignment 4: Speech for public speaking competition. This is certainly the most stressful and nerve-wracking out of all my assignments. We were given a topic and have to do a speech on the topic (To travel or not to travel). I’ve finished my speech but I’m now working on how to present it. I’ll post it on the blog once I’m finished with the competition. Speaking of writing, I also joined creative writing club as one of my extra curricular activities. One of my other clubs is fencing. I don’t why I joined fencing, its a terrible sport. My instructor always stabs me and I end up with bruises. Every Friday my parents get a phone call home from me asking if I can skip it. One time, I really didn’t want to go so I ended up texting my mom in French about how much I hated it. C’est horrible! Non, Je deteste ce. Je ne veux pas. I think you get the idea.

Till next time, Bailey

Meow! Wait, I want a turn now.

Today was an achievement. Normally, I stay on the couch to nap. But today, I got up! I went upstairs! But then I got tired and fell asleep again. Maybe it wasn’t as productive as I thought…

Meow meow for now!

Radio Silence…

Hi all,

We apologize for the silence lately on the blog. Although if you follow either of us on FB, then you know we hopefully had a good excuse.  May & June have been busy with a variety of things.

May started off easy enough, with us just coming off a two week Spring Break. However, that’s where the trouble started.

During Spring Break, I started to notice some pain (and tried to ignore it). I ended up having an emergency surgery in Bangkok to have my gallbladder removed. At the same time, Bailey was going through her end of year exams. Since this is her first year at the school, it was important for her to stay focused and do well. Well, it will always be important to do well but we didn’t really know what to expect from the whole process.

She spent many weeks leading up to it studying for them. The fact that she got interrupted by my drama certainly didn’t help her. But she’s resilient and  many of her exams have come back even better than we hoped for. A few of her classes, she came back with the top score in the class! This is on top of the fact that she had an extra curricular class every day of the week (won’t do that again in the third term).

Now, we’re gearing up for our home leave trip in a few weeks. Making lists of what we need to take, buy & eat! We’re all excited to see Family, Friends & Portland again for a bit.

Bailey will be writing next week sometime about an exciting project that she’s got going on. She’s waiting until the final results to share though.

Love you all,

April

40 Years Remembered

Hello Friends & Family,

The first year living somewhere new is always exciting and eye opening as you experience all the “firsts” that happen. This past week saw our first celebration of Reunification Day (4/30). As most of you have probably seen on your own local news, it was a big year as 2015 is the 40th anniversary. I read many articles on it & had a chance to speak with some local Vietnamese on how they view the day. Now, this is not the forum for a political discussion, but I learned a lot from them.

As the date grew nearer, I started to notice the propaganda posters going up. At first, I didn’t think much about them but then I started to look closer and realize the meaning and symbolism behind them. Now, none of these photos are great as they were all taken on a phone through the window of a moving car. It’s not like I could ask Mr. Khoung to slow down on the highway so I can snap a pic!

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In other news, we just had a nice long (2 week) Spring Break. The first week was filled with a revolving door of Bailey’s friends hanging out & sleep overs. The second week, Tony also had off. We took advantage of the holiday week and did another motor bike tour. While I certainly wouldn’t want to drive one, I really do enjoy seeing the city from behind the driver. It’s such a different perspective than being in a car & fun to be right next to all our fellow Saigoneer’s (even if they look at us like we’re strange).

We then took a couple of days to hit up a resort that’s only 2 hours away. Since it’s a major holiday and almost everybody travels, the resort was busier than normal but it was a lot of fun. Hanging by the pool all day & listening to a band at night. We got to be friends with the band and learn that they often play at a local roof top bar in the city. We’ll have to go see them play here!

I hope everyone’s had a great spring break & now it’s back to normal!

Next up, Cinco de Mayo-Vietnam style!

A Busy Easter Weekend

Hi Everyone,

Happy Easter

We’re hoping that you’ve all enjoyed your Easter weekend and got to spend it with the ones you love and eat lots of chocolate.

You know how some weekends are pretty low key & you barely leave the house? This was not one of those weekends! Although it was busy, it was filled with lots of fun things so it’s pretty hard to complain about that, right?

Friday night, Tony & I went to a Pink Martini concert while Bailey had a sleepover. Saturday saw us running a few errands then dinner with friends at home. Weekend pic

Of course, Sunday was Easter so between an early morning bike ride (Tony), sleeping late (Bailey) & church (all of us) plus an afternoon party with friends, we all had a lot going on. It was great to have a low key afternoon filled with lots of good friends, delicious food, a fierce cornhole compitition and a late night swim. If you didn’t have a swim suit, then your clothes worked just fine!

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Hope you all had a lovely weekend!

FOBISA in Taipei…

Hi all, Bailey typing! I recently returned from Taipei for FOBISIA (a sports competition that competes in athletics AKA track and field, football AKA soccer, basketball and swimming). I only competed in athletics this time but if I go again next year, I’m going to try out for football or swimming as well.

On the day of my competition, it was swimming in the morning and athletics in the afternoon. I was really nervous and I couldn’t sit still during the swim meet. My team swam really well, even snagging a couple first place medals. After swimming ended, we ate lunch (which I hardly ate because I’m so superstitious before my races that I can’t eat anything flavorful). I stuck the sandwich and cookie in my backpack along with the bread, cherrio’s, granola bars, and chocolate and at this point I had so much food shoved in the front pocket that I would have a feast after my races. My parents then came in the middle of lunch because they were going to walk with us to the stadium to watch me run. Then they gave me some snacks which I stashed away with the rest of my food. Then my friend Anne-linh and I walked over to the track with my coach to get warmed up.

The track felt like running on soggy carpet but when I  wore spikes, I hardly noticed. For some reason, I wasn’t nervous at all and I was so amped up and excited. The only problem was that it was cold and rainy. My first event was the 1500. I sat in the chairs with the other athletes waiting for our call. When we walked out on the track, it felt so serious and real. Everyone watching us intently waiting for the whistle to sound. When it finally did, we went off, our start fast. I stayed behind two girls for the first lap and a half remembering what my coach told me, “Keep in contact Bailey, don’t waste your energy at the start.”

Nobody was trying to break away so I decided to make my move. I passed them hard so they couldn’t catch up. I finished the last two laps fast, leaving everything on the track. The last hundred meters was where I typically got passed so I turned it on and sprinted hard, grinding my teeth. I crossed the line in a time of 5:30. I stood graciously on the 1st place block of podium grinning from ear to ear congratulating my opponents.

5 minutes later, I had to head out to the 300. During the 1500, I wasn’t cold but suddenly, during the 300 I was shivering like crazy, the icy rain drops landing on my arm making me colder. I ran the 300 with stiff arms and legs. I was sore and freezing, certainly not enjoying the sprinting. I finished in 4th place.

Then 2 minutes later I walked back over to the waiting tent. I had to do the 800 now. We walked over to the track our legs shaking from the cold. The whistle sounded and we went. I led the whole way. The last hundred meters I started to feel the limpness of my legs as they began to feel as if they were turning to JELL-O. Rain or tears or sweat streamed down my face I couldn’t tell. The girl behind me began to sprint but my legs couldn’t keep up. She passed me and ended up beating me by what couldn’t have been more than a second. I was happy with my second place award although I wished I could have kept up with her sprinting.

I headed back up into the stands with wet clothes. My parents congratulated me and my mom went to starbucks to get me a hot drink. Then we headed back to the hotel where I took a long shower to warm up. It was such a great experience for me, I made so many friends and I really hope I get to do it again.